Could we be looking at the future of hearing devices?
At first glance, the Zik headphones give you the impression that Parrot’s onto something. The build quality is very good. You know, the kind built for very long hours of use. The kind that make you want to stroke them with your fingers...well, you get the idea. Indeed, this is some fashionable design done in collaboration with French designer Philippe Starck.
The highlight feature on the Parrot Zik is the touch/gesture controls on the ear piece. I was a bit apprehensive at first but there is a simplicity in its use, and the gestures will come naturally to the current smartphone generation — tap to answer (if paired with a phone), slide to switch song (tried with iTunes) , slide up and down for volume— all of which work without any additional setup. Dropping the phones to your shoulder pauses music play; lifting it back to your ears resumed music. No fuss at all.
The gesture controls actually bring a fun element to the Zik. I do hope that there isn’t a lag in these controls over prolonged use. There’s also a nice soft click noise to give you feedback during the gestures.
The headphones also feature two microphones with a jawbone sensor to help pick up vibrations in addition to the sound. Any skepticism of it being a marketing gimmick were washed away with a few calls — no one I spoke to even commented that I was using headphones until I asked them for an opinion — quite a seamless experience. The voice quality transmitted is very good, considering microphones that don’t make you feel like you’re about to command an Airbus (seen in the cover picture).
Noise cancellation works well — there is a slightly unnerving suction-type action at its start — something they could probably improve on — but otherwise effective.
Battery life is good and lasted a full day for me with ‘normal’ use — some music, switching between my phone for calls on the go, and the laptop for music and a couple of Skype calls at my desk. What’s interesting to note is you can use the Zik as regular headphones when the battery runs out too, albeit without any of the geek snazz that makes the Zik what it really is.
Parrot also has an iOS app available that allows additional fun tuning with a quick pairing, that should make advanced users happy as well.
There’s a large market for quality headphones, and considering this is their first offering, Parrot packs a forward-thinking punch with the Zik. The innovative use of touch controls and easy set up means my mother could start using it intuitively with her iPad and wouldn’t let go thereafter.
Could we be looking at the future of hearing devices? I think so.